December 3, 2012

Back to the ADK future

KEENE — Two volunteer consultants have some controversial ideas on how to strengthen the economy of the Adirondack Park.

The Adirondack Futures Project, created by Keene residents David Mason and James Herman, is promoting one of the six possible scenarios they devised for what the Adirondacks could be like in 25 years.

“All of this is an attempt to attract young people and new retirees to our villages and to our communities,” Herman said.

The pair owned a strategy consulting firm in Boston and retired to Keene in 2004. The Futures Project started in 2010.

“We ran a business using this methodology that we have brought to the Adirondacks,” Mason said. “It is a pro bono project.”


The pair have been making the rounds with their report, visiting meetings of the Adirondack Park Agency, the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages and, most recently, the Essex County Board of Supervisors.

Backed by the Adirondack Common Ground Alliance, they have held 13 workshops with more than 500 people attending and conducted 150 interviews.

Mason said they settled on something they call “The Sustainable Life” as the most desirable and attainable of their six initial proposals. He said that scenario is actually a throwback to 100 years ago, when people grew their own food and heated with wood.

“It ... is really about the localization of energy, moving away from fuel oil more towards wood bio-mass. It is moving away from bringing so much food into the region, growing more of our own, and it is about (Internet) broadband-based jobs, which bring money into the region but don’t require people to bring a job to the region. The job is elsewhere.”


The big question in the Adirondacks is the balance between protecting the environment and building an economy, Herman said.

“The economy and the environment here are interdependent with each other. Our environment will not be healthy and will not be maintained if the economy collapses in the park.”

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